I'm an engineering manager at Trello, leading a web growth team serving millions of customers worldwide.

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An engineering manager and creative technologist.

Over a decade of experience working for some great companies: Square, Gucci, Pocket, and more.



I was a front end platform engineering manager for the popular payments service.

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General Assembly

General Assembly

I taught front end web development and a self-designed responsive web design workshop to future developers, entrepreneurs, and designers.

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I was the front end lead for all design and development on, a global e-commerce fashion site.

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Latest Blog Posts

Making one on ones better

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang may be an uber-talented chief executive, but his avoidance of one on ones is baffling. Maybe a lowly engineering manager isn’t one to critique the workflow of the head of one of the hottest tech companies around. Still, I consider 1:1s a fundamental management tool, one of the best ways to level up the team and build a culture of trust and open feedback within an organization.

Admittedly, Huang’s critique makes a few good points: 1:1s are usually a poor way to align strategy en masse or provide generalized downward communication. Managers should save that messaging for a Slack message or the next group all hands. But I suspect that 1:1s get a bad rap less for their potential, but instead from poor practical experiences.

Focus is a typical problem; many managers reframe 1:1 meetings around their needs. So you get horror stories of thirty minutes of one-way communication from a manager to a report that could have been an email. Or a meeting that devolves into a mini status report, a format for the manager to “deep dive” into the latest tactical project with the report on their back foot. And because it’s their meeting anyway, the manager happily shifts around a 1:1’s timing at the last minute or cancels it outright.

Managers need to reframe their mindset to make 1:1s productive and lasting. 1:1s aren’t about you, the work, or even the team. Instead, they’re all about serving the perspective of the individual report. What will build trust? What will help this engineer grow in their career? What will keep their morale from torpedoing when times get challenging?

1:1s provide no “one size fits all” solution. Details change based on the manager, the report, and the team mission. However, the proper format balances flexibility and rigidity, a concept that may sound contradictory but is by design.

1:1s are, from the report’s perspective, flexible or, at the very least, fungible. Most weeks, the report sets the agenda; it’s their meeting focused on their needs. I like a weekly thirty minute cadence as a starting point, but I often size up or down the meeting frequency on demand. Occasionally, an engineer can be heads down on a project with little on their mind in the long term to discuss; we’ll mutually cancel the meeting and give time back. Alternatively, we’ll touch on a subject for which the conversation will easily blow past thirty minutes. Maybe it’s a promo packet due soon, or a report’s morale has cratered, and we need to get back on track. In these instances, it may make sense to book multiple meetings in a week and dial back the frequency later.

But 1:1s are not a free for all. They work best with a set degree of rigidity and consistency. Because I, as the manager, generally have a packed, inflexible existing meeting schedule, I set the times when my 1:1s happen. I’ll post a signup sheet with a narrow set of open slots. Those openings are purposefully clustered around other existing meetings in my schedule, often back to back on just one or two days so that I can stay in “1:1 mode” for an extended period of my week.

I’m also inflexible around a shared source of truth for 1:1 notes and agenda items. That means a private document format (e.g., Google Doc, Confluence wiki) shared across the report and myself. I list out 1:1 dates in the doc in reverse chronological order, starting from several weeks ahead of the present. Against each date, there’s room for the report or me to write bullet point summaries. For future dates, the space is for proposed topics to discuss on the agenda. After the 1:1 happens, the space becomes a place to recap significant points covered in the 1:1.

The shared doc is purely a tool to facilitate good 1:1 conversations. Some otherwise talented engineers may struggle with topics to discuss, so I encourage them to capture ideas as they pop up in the doc asynchronously throughout the week. I’m also a heavy notetaker, so after a 1:1 wraps, I like to add a few bullet points to summarize our conversation. It’s a trivial effort on my part, and it can give reports a clear paper trail of our chats, hopefully spurning further ideas.

Rigidity can also be helpful around 1:1 topic cadence. In particular, for some reports, especially those earlier in their careers, I like building in a schedule so that once every two to three 1:1s, we explicitly focus on their career growth, usually on a focused, narrow aspect of their job like reviewing PRs efficiently or stakeholder management. Building a consistent schedule can help engineers keep a growth area at the forefront of their minds, even amid an otherwise busy or scattered day-to-day.

My personal 1:1 flow may only work for some. That’s fine! Tools and structure are only beneficial if you see a corresponding gain in the quality of your 1:1s. When one reflects on the latest few conversations, are the reports engaged? Are conversations two-way and productive? Is the total cognitive and time load – prep work, the actual meetings, and follow-ups – manageable? If ‘yes’ is the answer to all these questions, that’s a move in the right direction.

But even at my best, I rarely can give a universal yes to the questions above. On a team of eight or so ICs, I might have one report for which 1:1s remain challenging. The IC may be an otherwise strong developer and quality team member, but in the 1:1, they are unprepared and convey disinterest.

Before I worry too much about exceptional cases, I consider the bigger picture. If the engineer is knocking out the work, is happy, and is growing in their career, there’s no need to stress out. Cut down the frequency, keep check-ins for only the most critical topics, and let them loose. Remember: it’s ultimately their meeting, not yours.

However, if the 1:1s are a drag and the engineer has some clear growth areas, I’ll mix it up with a more direct approach. Without a 1:1 connection, I’ll lose my best venue for building trust and open feedback if I don’t take action.

Usually, I’ll book a straight one-off hour with them, with the focus on exclusively deep, more philosophical questions about why we’re meeting to begin with. I’ll probe on 1:1 experiences with prior managers; there might be a horror story or two to work through that has bred a deeper mistrust in the ritual. I also like to ask what they would want with zero limitations on what we could make happen in a 1:1 manager-report context. Crystal ball wild swings can bring insight into their real goal, to which you can react and size accordingly. If there’s a key growth area, I’ll discuss how I can help. Even the biggest 1:1 cynics want to grow their career, and if they see the meeting format as a way to move up, they may have a change of heart.

And when all else fails, be it with a report resistant to 1:1s or any other 1:1 that misses the mark, I remind myself that the meeting format’s idiosyncratic, humanistic setup ensures not every chat will be a winner. But occasionally, we listen and converse with empathy and curiosity and emerge as better, more productive engineers. Embrace the meeting format’s inherent messiness, and know that a few well timed, impactful conversations will outweigh those that feel unmemorable in the long run.

Hellblade II confounds expectations

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II (HB2) is one of the most fascinating games of the year. At its core, it’s a linear “walking simulator” like Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture, made with AAA levels of polish. Creative dissonance between initial expectations and the final product has fueled a polarized reaction to the game across reviews and social media.

A debate over HB2 felt inevitable with how fundamental gameplay is to most games and how strongly HB2 deemphasizes traditional gameplay mechanics. Pick any title at the top of sales charts; gameplay elements are almost always pivotal to their success. Elden Ring has best-in-class action RPG controls. Fortnite allows high degrees of player customization while providing many game variations, from battle royale shooters to Lego building and car racing. The Last of Us is best known for its post-apocalyptic storyline but is also lauded for its stealth action combat.

However, HB2 takes a deliberate approach by limiting gameplay options to focus on characters, setting, and mood. The majority of HB2’s runtime is spent guiding the protagonist Senua through an environment, allowing players to absorb the scenery and engage with the dialogue. There are no fail conditions or choices, just a linear journey from point A to B lasting about six to eight hours. While combat battles and puzzles exist, the action is straightforward (some argue outdated), repetitive, and easily skippable.

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The Fall Guy and theaters’ dim future

The Fall Guy is a throwback, the rare high budget summer movie based on a quasi-original story, leaning on two likable stars to carry a PG-13 mixture of action, comedy, and romance. Helmed by a director who’s proven himself at the box office, it’s about as appealing a draw as you’re going to get that’s not based on four-quadrant-friendly IP.

But The Fall Guy is a flop. The movie made $28 million opening weekend and $110 million worldwide gross after its first two weeks, the slowest start to the summer movie season in fifteen years. With a reported $130 million budget, it’s a likely loss on Universal’s balance sheets.

Cue extensive online discourse regarding The Fall Guy’s stumbles: Ryan Gosling can’t open a movie. Universal should have released the movie in the spring with less competition. The budget was excessive. But the path to success for The Fall Guy, like most movies, was already narrow; for the last decade, the theatrical experience has gotten worse while home viewing has gotten better, and the studios have trained an audience that mega event franchise IP are the only movies worth leaving home for.

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Game Pass needs Call of Duty more than ever

According to The Verge, Microsoft is debating on whether to add the new Call of Duty on Game Pass. It’s a no-brainer: COD would easily be Game Pass’s most high-profile title, giving a potential injection to growth to its otherwise plateaued subscriber base.

Opting out COD from Game Pass will effectively end the service as Xbox’s final differentiator against PlayStation, Nintendo, and Steam. A case by case treatment of “our games will come to Game Pass day one” will annoy existing subscribers. Nor is there any clear criteria – budget, branding, genre – to distinguish what enters Game Pass day one in a way that’s satisfactory to both Microsoft corporate or the Xbox player base. Even with clear messaging, in losing some day and date first party titles, a weakened Game Pass no longer properly distinguishes itself from PS5’s competing PlayStation Plus service.

Admittedly, corporate accounting will provide insight that I can’t speculate on. Maybe Microsoft ran the numbers, and a game of COD’s stature on Game Pass is simply too big of a sales revenue hit to ever swallow. Perhaps Game Pass’s long-term fiscal sustainability is long past the expiration point, and this is just the first in a line of walkbacks to slow the burn rate down.

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The shutdown of Tango Gameworks erodes trust in Xbox

It’s sadly easy to become numb to the news of more layoffs in the gaming industry, given its frequency over recent months. But Microsoft’s shutdown of four Bethesda studios stands out for its blatant reversal of Xbox’s purported post acquisition, Game Pass-centric future. The about face erodes trust in the Xbox brand and questions whether there’s any coherent first party strategy.

The shuttering of Tango Gameworks was particularly galling. The studio’s latest release, Hi-Fi Rush, exemplified the independence, creativity, and high quality that Xbox leadership claimed their first studios should aim for. Hi-Fi was a critical darling, landing on many critics’ top 10 lists, won a BAFTA, and was Xbox’s highest first party game of 2023 on OpenCritic. It also was a creative risk for Tango Gameworks, a bright, colorful throwback to the Dreamcast era for a studio that built its reputation on survival horror games.

Hi-Fi’s excellence also leveled up the value of Game Pass, Xbox’s greatest differentiator against the competition. It’s a draw for the service on its merit and the kind of high quality gem that can serve as an effective gap between some major AAA releases on Game Pass to minimize customer churn.

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Active breaks help the daily grind

The time we spend away from work can be as critical to our job’s success as when we clock in. That’s why active breaks – brief, focused, fun, and ready to go – are essential to my everyday routine. They keep me more productive and, on challenging work days, provide just enough fulfillment to keep the day palatable.

My active breaks all follow a pattern. They have natural stopping points that fall under thirty minutes. They demand lean forward, focused attention. No multi-tasking. No throwing something else on in the background. They are fulfilling and enjoyable to me, and only me. Active breaks aren’t for other people or my career growth. They are readily available, the kind of effort I can pick up almost any time; plans can change, and I never know when the mind needs a rest.

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The decline of directorial auteur runs

I recently watched Frances Ford Coppola’s Godfather Part II and Apocalypse Now on the big screen. Like many other directors of his era, he charted his path through auteur runs: multiple movies in a row with wide distribution and a personal artistic vision. No extended detours into TV. No five plus year gaps between films. No anonymous paycheck gigs. Coppola’s output from 1972 to 1979 – The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now – was arguably the greatest auteur run ever. Such directorial stretches used to be commonplace but are rare today, especially for younger directors. It’s a trend that, left unchecked, can threaten film’s cultural relevance.

But before getting too pessimistic about the situation, I did some research. I looked at Sight and Sound’s 2022 critics poll alongside the most popular movies on Letterboxd for a more populist take. From these sources, I hand picked at least forty directors who each had at least one reasonable auteur run: three or no movies in wide release (e.g., available across your average American cineplex or widely popular for rental or streaming) with no gaps greater than five years and no obvious mercenary gigs.

Every decade, many influential directors have had auteur runs at their critical and financial peak. In the 50s and 60s, there was Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Kubrick, Wilder, Fellini, and Goddard. The 70s brought New Hollywood in with Coppola, Scorsese, Altman, Friedkin, and Lucas. The 80s were defined by filmmakers as varied as Spielberg, De Palma, Stone, Carpenter, Cameron, Zemeckis, and Lynch. For the 90s we had Tarantino, Soderbergh, Lee, Linklater, Fincher, the Coen brothers, and Paul Thomas Anderson. I’d argue the 2000s saw a meaningful dip, but we still saw talent like Bigelow, Anderson, Wan, McDonaugh, and Iñárritu break out.

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Live service games are taking the wrong lessons from Fornite

Fortnite is a gaming success story that is paradoxically underreported, underrated, and misunderstood by the many new games as a service (GaaS) that try to emulate its feature set. Mainstream hype about Fortnite (e.g., billion dollar Disney investments, musical collaborations with Lady Gaga) obscures a primary reason the game continues to crush virtually every would be competitor in its path: it nails its fundamentals beautifully.

Every time I boot up Fortnite, I have enormous flexibility to play how I want. Within its multiplayer shooter core, there’s an immense variety of skins and other customization options. The artistry isn’t always for me, but the cosmetics set a consistently high quality bar. When I start a multiplayer match, I can chase the XP goals I’m in the mood for, whether combat-focused, exploration, or a mini battle pass narrative story. Skill based match making strikes a good balance; I can challenge myself by purposefully landing in frenzied hot zones or begin a match far away from the action to take things at a slower pace.

Fortnite also respects my money and time. Its battle pass doles out decent, reasonably varied rewards at a faster clip than most of the competition. Even half finished, I end up earning enough V-bucks to allow me to buy a future battle pass at a reduced rate. The time to kill is reasonably high compared to other popular shooters like Call of Duty or Apex Legends, which gives me a competitive opportunity to react and fight back against better players. Matches rarely last longer than twenty minutes.

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Dreams of 4K HDR are fading into 1080p realities

A year ago, I criticized Netflix for gatekeeping their highest quality video and audio content behind a premium tier. Max, Prime Video, and Disney Plus have since added similar pricing structures. If you want 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos movies from the biggest four streaming sites, you’ll have to pay more, anywhere from $3 to $7 a month. On a practical level, it ensures the majority of the home movie-watching audience will do so capped at the same 1080p and Dolby Digital 5.1 streams we’ve had for over a decade.

As someone who wants the home movie experience to be great, this is depressing news, especially when the pipeline of high quality audio and video has never been better. Modern capture tech ensures that most film productions, regardless of budget, record in a 4K HDR-friendly format. As home internet bandwidth improves, more households can stream higher quality content without stuttering. Also, practically every TV sold today, including entry level models, supports 4K HDR, while Atmos-ready soundbars and sound systems are more affordable than ever.

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Naughty Dog and the pitfalls of flat hierarchies

Watching Grounded II, a documentary on the making of The Last of Us: Part II, revealed unexpected parallels with my career. Making video games differs from shipping web apps, but the doc highlighted common challenges in navigating developers through hard deadlines, decision making, and resource management. I walked away from the experience with a newfound appreciation for how engineering managers can help ship great products.

Naughty Dog, the studio behind TLOU2, didn’t share my optimistic view on EMs. For most of its history, the studio went against industry trends by rarely hiring producers (dedicated roles to manage the project’s timeline and resource needs) or people managers. Department leads served as both individual contributors and quasi-managers. Naughty Dog leadership argued the producers and managers were a “crutch”, bureaucratic red tape that slowed down productivity and stifled creativity. Boasts around flat studio hierarchy appear as an aside in the documentary’s opening act.

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